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Psychopathic Manchild

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Johnny's wacky like that.

"Like I said, kids are cruel, Jack. And I'm very in touch with my inner child."
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A dangerous teen-aged or adult villain or a brutal Anti-Hero with a childlike nature, which creates a dissonance between innocence and savagery. Such characters can become rich sources of Nightmare Fuel, especially if their childishness is never explained. Contrary to the term, many examples are not necessarily psychopaths in the clinical sense. Misaimed Fandom may not be out of the question, either; sometimes the character's more "Moe" attributes will be picked up on and subjected to Flanderization.

The exact extent of the character's childishness will vary, and in general Psychopathic Manchildren can come in several varieties, with possible overlap. Such a character may:

  • A) Be a big Dumb Muscle, often mentally challenged, that operates under someone else's direction. This type may be the most common, and also the most likely to play to the audience's sympathy. Expect them to try to Pet the Dog, often with disastrous results. Could be a subversion of Dumb Is Good.
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  • B) Seem superficially powerful and cruel, but have very childish or simplistic goals, motivations or world views. May overlap with One of the Kidsif the cruelty part isn't played up to horrifying levels. Has a tendency to overlap with The Hedonist.
  • C) Actually possess a lot of power, intelligence, and/or prestige, but also have some childish qualities or behaviors, to fit in with a certain aspect of the story being told, or else advertise that there is something seriously wrong with them, to make them creepier. These are most likely to be a story's Big Bad.
  • D) This one is a literal example: Appear cute and harmless on the surface, but actually be this trope. Especially common with female examples, because of the stereotype.
  • E) Be subject to a personal variation of Values Dissonance where violent, savage actions are viewed by the character in question in the same light as regular play is viewed by most real children. This variant is often an especially strong source of Nightmare Fuel due to the uncanny dissonance between their childish demeanor and the viciousness of their actions.
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  • F) Be completely or largely inexplicable, and the discrepancy between the different parts of their personality Played for Laughs.

What makes this character stand out is that he is The Sociopath in that he is mostly incapable of feeling empathy, shame or remorse but unlike other sociopaths, his mental immaturity prevents him from imitating emotions or indeed even realizing why he takes his desires for granted and fails to even superficially consider why others would disagree or why he isn't entitled to everything. Type C is excepted from this, of course. Whichever version these types of characters qualify as, often they are not fully aware of how nasty their actions actually are. In some cases (though not all), a Heel Realization may cause the character to develop into a better person. A more innocent or well-intentioned Psychopathic Manchild may be a Noble Demon.

One way to use this character is to face him off against a jaded, cynical, or shady Anti-Hero, to play with traditional hero-villain relationships by making the villain more innocent than the hero (at least in theory). (Easier if he's a major villain in his own right.) Another interesting twist is to make this character the Designated Hero and match him with an Affably Evil villain.

When one of these is running a country or occupying a similar position of authority, you have The Caligula.

The grown-up equivalent of Creepy Child and the near-inversion of Enfante Terrible. Often an enemy of a Sociopathic Hero though the two aren't mutually exclusive (and tend to overlap quite a bit) and contrast with the typically more benign Manchild. See also Cute and Psycho and Ping-Pong Naïveté. Related to, but distinct from, Kids Are Cruel.


Examples:

    open/close all folders 

    Music 
  • The main character of the Thomas Fersen song and music video "Hyacinth".
  • Maxwell Edison qualifies as Type C on The Beatles song "Maxwell's Silver Hammer".

    Myths & Religion 

    Pro Wrestling 
  • George Steele, during his heel run. He then became a sympathetic baby face, all without really changing his in-ring style.
  • The gimmick of Abyss in TNA is this trope. When he's a face, the sympathy is milked for all it's worth.
  • Poor, poor AJ Lee. The Ambiguously Brown cutie was never the same after Daniel Bryan publicly dumped her (although that blow to the skull she took from The Big Show when he nearly broke her neck during a title match with Bryan might also have been a factor), and she quickly descended into a morass of self-pity and highly erratic behavior that eventually turned dangerous. Among her frightening deeds are making sexual advances toward every man she comes across, wearing a red leather mask similar to Kane's, putting both Bryan and CM Punk through a table for no apparent reason, and...skipping around girlishly in short shorts and a bikini top, although her skipping around during a tag match seemed so out there that even Kane told her that she was too crazy even by his standards.
  • The Great Khali is this by default during his heel runs. In-universe, he's a gigantic, physically and mentally stunted Indian immigrant who usually just wants to kiss girls and dance to Bollywood musical scores, but unfortunately is just so stupid that it's relatively easy for his much more evil "friends" to warp his mind and turn his phenomenal physical strength toward malevolent purposes. The last of these slavemasters was Jinder Mahal, who not only mentally manipulated Khali but idiotically tried to physically bully him as well, leading to the Crowning Moment of Awesome of Khali finally getting thoroughly sick of Mahal's bossiness and brain-chopping him into submission.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Apply this trope to a species, add a healthy dose of More Dakka and Clap Your Hands If You Believe, let (rule of) cool, and you've got the Orks of Warhammer 40,000. They think that they should do "wot's fun." It's just the rest of the galaxy's bad luck that to the Orks, "fun" means "NEEDS MORE DAKKA! Dat's 'ow ya killz fings!" They're like big, green, comic relief howlers.
    • Possibly Ogryns as well, given their fierce loyalty. See Gav and Bob for a Tear Jerker example.
    • Of all the violent raving madmen in this universe, fandom chose to make Ax-Crazy Blood Knight Kharn the Betrayer this of all people. Read this collection to see the Champion of Khorne (what a fun guy) engage in activities like finger painting with blood, arranging bodies into amusing messages, and jumping into combat from high orbit (the narrator ended up surfing a Khornate Space Marine).
    • One of the Iron Warriors short stories has the Slaughterman (type one), who is described specifically as having a child's unthinking cruelty. He doesn't come to a good end.
    • Lucius the Eternal, in Horus Heresy material, is extremely childish, selfish and petulant. He betrays the Loyalists at Isstvan III not because of personal ambition or some epic injustice, but because they don't like him as much as Saul Tarvitz, the man who saved all their lives by bringing a warning. He falls under type two, with a great degree of personal skill but absolutely no personal maturity. Didn't stop him from becoming the Champion of Slaanesh, exulting in causing and receiving pain.
    • The Primarch Lorgar of the Word Bearers was described as such by fellow Primarch Roboute Guilliman.
    He is so... changeable. He is so prone to extremes. Eager to please, so quick to take offence. He's so keen to be your best friend, and then, at the slightest hint of an insult, he's angry with you. Furious. Offended. Like a child.
  • Warhammer Fantasy has Sigvald the Magnificent, the setting's Champion of Slaanesh, a 300-year-old 16-year-old. Has been described, with good reason, as an older Joffrey Baratheon (and was even born of a chieftain screwing his sister), and is extremely petulant (he once besieged a city because he didn't like their wine, and has a tendency to stop his Mirror Shield-equipped bodyguards so he can admire himself from all angles, during a battle) and unwilling to take responsibility for his failures.
  • Goblins in the Pathfinder setting have this kind of persona. They're such immature, comically inept little guys that they'd count as Ineffectual Sympathetic Villains if not for their rare moments of competence at murdering innocent noncombatants. In fact, each of the goblinoid races in Pathfinder (goblins, hobgoblins and bugbears) are meant to represent a different kind of evil and the little buggers represent childish random malice incarnate.
  • One of the most frightening and powerful incarnations of this trope is seen in the Dungeons & Dragons Demon Lord Kostchtchie, who rules a whole layer of the abyss based soley on sheer power and child like rage. It helps that he's secretly a pawn to Iggwilv, but still, most Demon Lords can't rise to the position, let alone hold onto it, without having shades of the Magnificent Bastard.
  • The Fair Folk of Exalted are mostly this. They don't mean to be horrible, horrible monsters, but they don't understand how reality works. They hail from the Wyld, where most any being they encounter is simply a figment of either their imagination or another Fae's, so they have difficulty processing the idea that every individual they meet in Creation is an independent and sentient being. Furthermore, in the Wyld, Death Is Cheap. A Fae killed by another Fae can just shape himself back into existence with a thought, so they have trouble understanding why the Creation-born are so uptight about the stabbing.

    Theatre 
  • Poison in Dracula: A Love Stronger Than Death is a female example, a fully-grown vampire woman who affects an infantile attitude and carries around an identically-dressed doll while wearing babydoll dresses herself, and takes childish delight in the evil that comes with being a vampire.
  • Some productions of Shakespeare's Richard III will portray the titular character as one of these—despite his ruthlessness and willingness to kill everyone who might keep him from the throne, Richard is really just an emotionally stunted man who is jealous of his more popular brothers and wants to play with their toy (the "toy" being the throne of England).
  • The title character from Lizzie is in her thirties, but often acts like a teenager, being prone to fits of temper and having a rather immature and simplistic outlook on the world. This is partially because of her sheltered upbringing, and partially because she's been abused and raped by her father since childhood. His control over her is the only life she's ever known. When she finally reaches her Rage Breaking Point, the consequences are... messy. To say the least.
  • Some of the actors playing The Phantom of the Opera play him as this, especially during the final confrontation — Norm Lewis actually does a horse dance while singing "Order your fine horses now!", as a means of taunting the imprisoned Raoul and Christine.

    Visual Novels 
  • SHIKI from Tsukihime started off as a mischievous yet unstable kid...then his brutal awakening of his demon blood while simultaneously the Big Bad was taking him over from the soul outwards, impaling his Only Friend and being confined cracked his mentality to become this. Now as an adult, he's extremely powerful, but now he's prone to violent temper tantrums, self-centered, aggressively possessive and just plain creepy.
  • Ilyasviel von Einzbern from Fate/stay night whose child-like attitude is slightly justified by the fact that she was orphaned at a young age and never received anything even resembling a traditional upbringing. She's pretty, cheerful, carefree and has an attachment towards Shirou...but after being abandoned by her father and being raised as a Tyke-Bomb Artificial Human with no concept of morality, she will toy with Shirou while pleasantly torturing him.
  • Regina Berry of the Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney series is a rare example of a female Type E. Regina is the teenage daughter of a circus ringmaster, who raised her without ever letting her know about the outside world. As such, she has absolutely no understanding of things like death or pain—to her, everything is a game or a lighthearted practical joke. Unfortunately, this makes her completely (though unknowingly) selfish and cruel: she does whatever she wants to do whenever she wants to do it, never bothering to consider how her actions might affect the people around her. The biggest example of this is the fact that she inadvertently put one of the circus's trapeze artists into a coma by playing a prank on him, and repeatedly talks about how he's "sleeping" instead of being nearly brain-dead. Albeit, it's somewhat downplayed as she's not intentionally malicious, and she literally has no idea that she comes across as cruel. On the flip-side, though, Acro definitely seems to think that she's a fully deliberate case of this.
  • Ace Attorney Investigations 2: Blaise Debeste has a penchant for acting like a petty teenage bully, excessive weepiness, playing with his lighter like an entranced child and other bouts of general immaturity, to contrast with his kid who tries (and fails) to act more mature than he really is. The psychopathic part comes from the fact he's unnecessarily creepy about it all, is terribly corrupt, believes the truth is something he decides, and has killed several people, including his wife by implication, to cover for his crimes.
  • Grisaia no Kajitsu: Irisu Kiyoka, described by her own daughter:
    Makina: "Probably not somethin’ her own daughter should be sayin’, but my mom’s basically a nasty little kid who never grew up."

    Webcomics 
  • The Order of the Stick
    • Thog is a half-orc fighter/barbarian with extremely violent tendencies, a sunny disposition, and an Intelligence score that's probably no higher than 5. Thog is probably the only person alive who gets along equally well with Elan and Nale. Elan and Thog bond over the "Manchild" part, and Nale appreciates the "Psychopathic" part.
    • Though more intelligent than Thog, Nale himself falls into this trope once he stabs his own brother simply for not wanting to join his group.
    • Xykon, the Big Bad, an epic-level sorcerer who is trying to take over the world more or less For the Evulz.
    • Belkar Bitterleaf, who sorts the world into people he wants to stab, people he can't (yet) stab, and people he finds gratifying in the moment — and the categories overlap.
    • Remember how Elan used to be a benign Manchild? Well, his father General Tarquin devolves into an evil version of this once his Villainous Breakdown really starts kicking in and he vows to kill all of Elan's friends (and cut off his hand) just to get him to finally follow his narrative plan.
  • Jekkel from Silver Bullet Nights is rumored to have once used someone's entrails as skipping rope.
  • Richard from Looking for Group often shows childish tendencies and extremely bratty and whimsical behaviour.
    • Tim the ogre would be a textbook psychopathic manchild (he refers to Cale'Anon as "Chicken", ex. "Chicken needs squishy?"), but has been described by one of his associates as being taking one too many maces to the head.
      • Tim is certainly a manchild, but he is really not the violent psychopathic sort.
  • Sluggy Freelance:
    • Reakk: Even though he's a demon who eats people's souls, it's hard not to like the dimwitted little guy.
    • Oasis, with her underdeveloped personality and sadistic fondness of killing. Bun-bun described her as a "demented toddler", and while she's theoretically opposed to killing innocents, once she eliminates someone from that category, she's willing to do things such as cut their ribs out one at a time out of curiosity while they're still alive.
    • Agent Gnaaaw, a young woman possessed by a brutish demon, is childishly confused about the distinction between liking someone as a person and enjoying eating them.
  • Camille Domino of Bloody Urban, a century-old vampire who is extremely short, dresses like a teenager, throws hissy fits when she doesn't get her way, abuses her powers for selfish ends, and generally sees no problem in acting horribly towards other people.
  • Kharla'ggen of Drowtales is clearly insane and enjoys turning people into living dolls unable to move, but it's implied she's not actually that bad a person under her insanity. Being under the thumb of a Psycho for Hire who used her as a figurehead leader didn't help her at all.
  • In 8-Bit Theater, Black Mage is a rare example of a "heroic" Type C, in that he is intelligent and relatively well-put-together, but takes a psychotic, child-like glee from hurting close friends and innocent people for little reason more than the amusement it causes him. His tantrums tend to devolve rather quickly into childish whining as well.
    • Fighter generally enjoys beating the living shit out of people, but is quite friendly and rather... slow.
  • Ethan from Ctrl+Alt+Del, who is almost completely bereft of maturity and/or responsibility, even from his own actions. He's Peter Griffin, except he's a gamer. Yup.
  • Lawler of White Noise could be considered this. He's a skilled, ruthless, cheerfully sadistic operative who's obviously quite a few bananas short of a bunch. Yet he has a child-like unquestioning devotion to his boss, and spends his spare time having fun by drawing all over his hands. Aww.
  • Spot of Get Medieval has a childlike enthusiasm for fire and explosions and pure hate for those who try to stop him from making either.
  • Jared of Jared, despite being very intelligent and a badass, is childishly selfish and obsessive.
  • Butch of Chopping Block can be this, though the degree to which it applies varies wildly from strip to strip. In one case, his mutilation of corpses was compared to a child playing with a cardboard box.
  • Slick, the devil and God (!) show such tendencies in Sinfest.
  • Homestuck: Lord English, despite being the untouchable master of Weird Time Shit, is still the same surly Jerkass he was when he was young. Explained in-universe as the result of him putting a hit out on the dream self of Calliope, his sister/good personality, instead of doing a Split-Personality Takeover as is normal for their species. Without her he was unable to mature properly, and we later his adult form (which always looked different from adult Cherubs, most noticeably in that he had no wings) isn't really an adult at all, but rather Caliborn fused with a few other characters, most notably the muscular Arquiusprite. It was his physique that made Caliborn appear as an adult. All this makes him a Type B.
    Land of Boredom and Confusion: HOW DO YOU GO FROM MURDEROUS PSYCHO DOUCHEBAG TO HILARIOUS DORK IN TEN PAGES. HOW.
  • Tower of God
    • Quant is a Ranker of the Tower, a position commanding great respect and implying a terrifying amount of power, which he does possess. His greatest weakness is his incredible immaturity, which not only let him self get lead on twice by the examinees he had to train and test, but also caused 197 people to die (instead of, well, fewer people dying — the Tower can be pretty brutal) because he used a 30 minute death match for an examination, and didn't bother to watch the proceedings to notice two One Person Armies were going around killing everyone else. He also gambled away his whole property in one go in a game centre.
    • Quaetro (from the same family as Quant, who are not known for their steady temperament) is Axe-Crazy with fire magic — and mainly thinks it's a lot of fun.
  • Schlock of Schlock Mercenary manages to combine this with Sergeant Rock to make for one dangerous blob of ambulatory goo. He's childish, violent, loves Stuff Blowing Up, can and will eat anything he can fit in his mouth, (including people) and the idea of having his hand-held rotary cannon effectively turned into a personal artillery field piece rigged to fire grenade rounds gives him a gleeful expression like a kid on Christmas. Oh, and for a brief period he was Dual Wielding sawed off starship cannons. He's by no means stupid, proving on several occasions to be a cunning tactician and combat leader, but his Blood Knight tendencies and immaturity guarantees he'll never be promoted above sergeant. And so long as he gets let off his leash to indulge in a bit of ultra-violence he's probably ok with that.
  • The titular Axe Cop has a sort of meta-justification in that he's actually written by a small child.
  • Agathoth from Cloudscratcher is described like so.
  • Dom of Plume acts like a bratty tween most of the time, but is also a ruthless and trigger-happy murderer.
  • Commander Kitty has Zenith, who, while very effective at creating Body Horror and a would-be Galactic Conqueror, and far from stupid, has approximately the personality of a self-obssessed Bratty Teenage Daughter: she's childishly jealous of her perceived rivals ("She gets her own button an' everything!"), insists that creating a perfected Mix-and-Match Critters Flesh Golem will advance her agenda when she really just wants a boyfriend, is afraid of bugs, etc. This doesn't last forever... unfortunately.

    Web Original 
  • The Angry Video Game Nerd showcases a bit of a Type F personality in his early-mid episodes.
  • In Alfred's Playhouse, Alfred Alfer has a Split Personality. Regular Alfred Alfer, is a manchild trying to repress memories of sexual abuse by imagining himself in the titular Playhouse whenever he was being abused or having a flashback. The psychopathic personality is Dictator Pickles, who is the part of Alfred's personality who had to take the abuse when Alfred was imagining himself in the Playhouse, and is now angry and vengeful. He wants to Take Over the World, hates Alfred, and shows no remorse for what he does.
  • Pretty Pink Ponytails from Angel of Death is a twenty-year-old woman who has a high-pitched voice, wears clothes made for small children (they're cut apart, and have extra fabric added to them.) She skips everywhere and loves to sing nursery rhymes. She also seems to enjoy torturing people and often describes things like death how a little girl would, despite seeming to comprehend these things fully. She also uses brightly colored handguns, and loves explosions.
    • It's not clear if she really thinks she's a little girl, feels compelled to act like a little girl, or is just taking on the persona of a little girl. If the latter is the case, then she seems to keep up the act 24/7, as she's never been seen out of character, even in private conversations with her brother.
  • The titular character of "Caillou The Grownup" from AOK animation featuring Caillou as a 22 year old manchild who still acts like a small boy living with his parents refusing to act responsible and get a job, he is also very short tempered and threatens to physically harm his parents if they make him do something he doesn't want to do, and he gleefully admits he purposely makes his parents lives a living hell.
  • The Emperor of If the Emperor Had a Text-to-Speech Device, when he's not Grumpy Old Man, has moments when he appears to be this.
    Holy shit, a giant skeleton space robot planet that shoots molecule-breaking beams and destroys everything it spots... I want one!
  • One possible interpretation of HABIT from Everyman HYBRID.
  • Blaine Eno and Cillian Crowe from Survival of the Fittest are each brutal killers brought onto the island specifically to spice up the competition (it's implied that the terrorists actually broke Cillian out of his asylum to take him to the island), but Blaine is mentally and emotionally seven years old and has no real grip on what he's doing, while Cillian is almost under the control of an imaginary, daemonic, friend named Haddy.
    • Lately Liam "Brook" Brooks has shown signs of being one of these after having some Sanity Slippage which resulted in Ax-Crazy tendencies.
  • Dragon Ball Abridged:
    • Nappa.
    "Look Vegeta...a Pokémon!"
    • Freeza comes off as intelligent and cool-headed at first, but when it comes down to it he's really more like a bored rich kid who gets his entertainment from killing innocent people. As he loses more of his cool, his immaturity shows.
    • Vegeta, who became a Super Saiyan be throwing a tantrum and says "Mineminemineminemine..." whenever he wants something.
  • The title character of Salad Fingers, though this may be a subversion as he's more True Neutral in the "uncaring, detached, and having no regard for either good or evil" sense.
  • The Nostalgia Critic is a Type B. Imagine him as a twelve-year-old boy with no supervision and a gun and you get the idea.
    • The Nostalgia Chick is a Type D. You get the impression sometimes that she genuinely doesn't know why Nella would be pissed off about cameras placed in her bedroom. And there's no guilt involved either.
      • Elisa's characters Dr. Tease and The Makeover Fairy both enjoy torturing people through science and makeovers far too much.
    • Genki Girls Allison Pregler and Pushing Up Roses occasionally wander into this trope when their excitement gets a touch too extreme.
  • In the Agents of Cracked webseries on Cracked.com, this is Michael Swaim all the way. He's a Depraved Extreme Omnisexual and Idiot Savant with a cheerful "just for fun" attitude who kidnaps schizophrenic women as his "wives." Reversed in Cracked's other content, where Swaim is a polite android, while D.O.B. and Brockway have the drug-fueled, destructive benders.
  • Every one from Profound Moments In Left 4 Dead 2 could count as this.
  • Dr. Wondertainment, considering the toys he/it makes.
  • Leslie, the Psycho Lesbian who showed up occasionally in the short-lived web series 3 Way. She stalked her ex-girlfriend, Geri, obsessively despite having been warned by a court order to stay away, making creepy phone calls and jumping out of random hiding places to frighten Geri. Yet, despite some of her acts of terrorism being inspired by those of fictional movie villains (Glenn Close's in Fatal Attraction, most notably), they are all of the Poke the Poodle variety. She also sleeps with a Big Bird doll.
  • Jalix 'Trap-Deezy' has shades of this, often exploding into tirades of excessive alliterative insults at people for even doing the most harmless of apparently "stupid things". Also having a fondness for cute things, littering his videos with inane babble and odd images and making videos where he almost always appears as an intelligent yet morally divorced teenager with world-views beyond his years and an aversion to people, watching his serious videos is just plain awkward.
  • The Downfall parodies' portrayal of Adolf Hitler is this. For starters, try telling him that his Xbox Live account has been banned for life.
  • Mr Deity is a Type C. He's a Jerkass God who deliberately puts all sorts of evil things into his creation for no real reason and frequently inflicts horrifically cruel punishments for minor crimes, but behaves in a very childish manner, particularly in the way he responds to criticism.
  • Nutty from Happy Tree Friends is a Type D, assuming he is actually an adult. He will do anything to get his candy, and while ordinarily he only hurts himself, there are exceptions, most notably "Class Act" where he begins eating Sniffles alive because Sniffles was wearing a candy cane costume.
  • The Tendies Stories from 4chan feature an autistic man living at home who terrorizes his family into giving him "tendies" (chicken tenders) in exchange for "good boy points" and tends to do horrific things when he doesn't get his way.
  • RWBY: Although he generally communicates in a verbose and melodramatic manner akin to an actor on a theatre stage, Tyrian Callows has a very infantile emotional dependence on Salem. He regards her as a 'goddess' and is desperate to please her. When he fails to complete his task, he initially cowers fawning madly to himself that Salem will forgive him. When he reaches Salem, he crawls towards her, begging for forgiveness. When Salem gently, but coldly, tells him that he has disappointed her, he dissolves into sobs of despair that attract a Beowulf. Tyrian then takes out his despair on the Grimm, slashing it over and over until his sobs turn into maniacal laughter; Cinder witnesses his entire breakdown, and can only watch in open-mouthed horror.

 
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Alternative Title(s): Psychopathic Womanchild, Psychotic Manchild

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Steven Universe

White Diamond throws a tantrum after being proven wrong.

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